With a sunny day in prospect, we decided to check out the most northerly area covered in the Roca Caliente guidebook. The Val d’Aran is the northernmost extent of Catalunya, bordering France, and actually spans the Pyrenees (so some of its rivers apparently flow into the Atlantic). The upmarket town / ski resort of Vielha is accessed in about half an hour from El Pont de Suert, via its 7km long road tunnel, and then it’s another 15mins or so to the pretty village of Bagergue.
It’s a tiny hamlet set at about 1400m that seems to have accumulated smart, stone-built tourist accommodation around a charming old church and square. There are probably more routes on the adjacent crags than there are inhabitants (which can’t be a bad thing!)
From parking in the village you wander up to the church then follow the well-marked footpath, cobbled at first then wooden steps, down towards the river, forking right after about 200m to the obvious bridge…
… which the sign suggests has been renovated at a cost of 35k euros from the local community to facilitate access to the crag!
Wandering up the other side, you’re soon at Sector Initiation – a dozen short (~10m) routes from IV+ to 6c/7a, where we bumped into a young Basque couple.
Helen pretty much ticked the whole crag, including…
All enjoyable climbs, with crimpy moves on well-featured granite, with good bolting.
The centre right of the crag has an uncharacteristically smooth vertical wall which is home to UEM – 7a in the guide but 6c according to the name plate on the rock. Here’s the Basques top-roping it. The tricky climbing is compressed into only 5m or so, but involves a couple of moves on matchstick-width crimps. 6c or 7a, the biggest satisfaction was being told I’d made it look easy!
The crag gets taller (20m+) and a lot steeper around the corner, where Sector Duro de Pelar contains around 40 routes from 6a to 8b, mostly 7s.
I had a half-hearted look at couple of 7as before making a more concerted stab at Pelidos-Araneses, 7a/+, getting to about 2/3 height before getting shut down. Happily this has a 6c alternative finish, Medalla d’Or – a nice consolation (probably should be called Medalla de Plata).
Another crag to add to the 12CB4 list!